Passers-by spotted a fire in Rumford Wednesday, saving the lives of a couple from their burning home.
Peter Conway said had he not made an unexpected turn Wednesday morning onto South Rumford Road, he never would have seen the fire on the back porch of Susan and John Dolloff’s home.
“I looked over, and I saw a porch starting to catch fire,” Conway said.
He and Taneli Koskela immediately pulled over, jumped out of their tree-trimming truck, and started pounding on the front door, knowing there were people inside.
“About the time I kicked the door, he finally must have woken up. [He] came to the door a little bit startled, because somebody just tried kicking his door in,” Koskela said.
Inside, the fire chief said John Dolloff had been sleeping and his wife was in the shower.
They had no idea their home was on fire.
The two men say they ran inside to make sure the couple got out safely.
“He turned and started hollering to his wife, and she was trying to get out of the shower,” Koskela said.
In seconds, the fire spread to the inside of the house.
“It looked like you were looking into a wood stove,” Conway said. “Just blasting flame right up against it. And within maybe 15 seconds all the glass shattered out and their bedroom started filling with flames.”
With flames on the ceiling, the couple and their rescuers ran out of the house.
“They came out with no shoes, barely any clothes,” Rumford Fire Chief Chris Reed said.
Minutes later, more than half the home was on fire.
The fire chief said those men spotted the flames just in time.
“It saved their lives,” Reed said. “Because he was next to the wall where the fire was burning sleeping. And she was in the shower. Timing was perfect for them.”
“It was a good thing that we went that way,” Koskela said. “By the time he would have woken up — if he would have woke up — she would have been in trouble in the bathroom.”
The couple’s daughter said her family is thankful to the men who saved her parents.
“You know, I’m so grateful. You have no idea,” Aimee Thibodeau, a former editor at the Bangor Daily News, said. “The fact that they were willing to stop and put their own lives in danger, to get my parents out, speaks volumes.”
“I’m just thankful we were there because, you know, want to make sure everybody’s safe,” Conway said.
Because of the extent of the damage, fire investigators have no idea how this started. And they may never know. The fire chief said the home was insured.